Service that delights, surprises, and amazes—it’s what we crave as customers. And, we are all customers. We’re service providers, too. Whether it’s as an office professional, an entrepreneur, a restaurant manager, a volunteer, a manager, a parent—there is always the opportunity to serve. But “service with a smile” isn’t a given; companies invest millions each year to train employees on their organization’s service philosophy.
That’s why it’s always refreshing to revisit the idea of “service” when a new book arrives on the scene. Chip Bell, author or co-author of 20 books (many of them with a customer service focus), has written a delightful book called “Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences through Innovative Service. ” The book is a foodie’s dream: it features whimsical, lush photos of food supported by clever gastronomic metaphors that advance the customer service theme. It’s beautiful to hold in your hands: equal parts miniature coffee table book, inspirational prose, and practical “how-to” guide book.
As the title suggests, Bell’s take on customer service is about providing small, unexpected experiences that delight customers. Sprinkles on a cupcake, Bell says, are “not complex or arduous” and they should be sprinkled on, “much like a fairy with a wand.” In the same way, customer service “performances” (as Bell calls them) should be random, effortless and unique.
A key premise of Bell’s customer service model is that customer service should be “value-unique” rather than “value add” because adding value becomes a can-you-top-this game which becomes too expensive and exhausting, both for the company and the service employee. Bell states his case by weaving many personal examples of superb customer service that he’s received into the narrative, as well as providing specific business-based examples of customer service.
This book is a quick and easy read. Mirroring Bell’s premise that service should delight in its unexpected simplicity, the book is visually pleasing and the stories flow effortlessly. And just like a sublime dining experience, there are many layers to this book. It would be tempting to overlook the deeper themes embedded in its glossy pages, but resist doing so. As you complete each of the nine chapter’s “secret sauce” recipes—such as abundance and allegiance—be sure to ponder what these words mean to your life as it relates to providing services with sprinkles on top.
I especially enjoyed Chapter 6, “Customers Enjoy Borrowing a Cup of Sugar,” in which Bell draws parallels to customer service and neighborliness. Writes Bell, “Our fast-paced, get-it-on-the-Internet culture has stripped out much of the neighbor-serving-neighbor service experience.” Like neighbors who are happy to lend someone a cup of sugar, expecting no payment in return, service providers look out for their customers and, in doing so, build trust.
The obvious choice for the book Sprinkles are people with “customer” or “service” in their job descriptions. Yet I could see this book eliciting meaningful conversations among leaders who want to practice servant leadership, or for volunteers wishing to give the most to their cause.
You can download a free sample of the book here.
Disclosure: I received a free book for the purposes of reviewing it on my blog. Please know that I only share book titles that I think will be useful to my readers.